VA SHIELD (Central Biospecimen and Data Repository)
A comprehensive repository of disease biospecimens and associated data relating to COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.
Vision Statement: Advance understanding of disease and further diagnostic, therapeutic, and prevention strategies for immediate deployment in clinical environments.
Purpose: Create a comprehensive infectious disease repository of specimens and associated data available to advance research, improve diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, and develop strategies for immediate deployment in VA’s clinical environments.
VA Science and Health Initiative to Combat Infectious and Life-Threatening Diseases (VA SHIELD) is a comprehensive, secure biorepository of specimens and associated data related to COVID-19 and other emerging diseases. These specimens and data are available to authorized VA investigators—and, under certain circumstances, to their external collaborators—to advance scientific understanding in support of developing diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative strategies for use in clinical care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted opportunities for VA to rapidly respond to emerging diseases in a coordinated manner.
VA has a major role to play in the national response to COVID-19. Veterans who use VA care represent a vulnerable population in the United States. Their median age is 65 years, nearly a third are racial or ethnic minorities, and many have one or more chronic diseases. These factors overlap with risk of severe COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.
COVID-19 is the most recent instance of a virus rapidly spreading across the United States. Its devastating impact had highlighted the importance of establishing a biobank biospecimen and data repository to support a proactive response to both current and future pandemics.
VA SHIELD supports VA’s fourth mission: to improve the nation’s preparedness for national emergencies and to support emergency management, public health, safety, and homeland security efforts. As the largest integrated healthcare provider in the country and through its geographic breadth and size, VA is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in accelerating research efforts for future outbreaks. Through the establishment and implementation of the biorepository, VA is well-positioned to respond rapidly to national and international biological events and to substantially contribute to clinical research and development.